During my 3 months of training in Butajira, we wrote a letter to our future selves to be read at 3 months of being a Peace Corps Volunteer and again, at our one year Mid-Service Conference [MSC] to be read at our Close-of-Service Conference [COS]. This is verbatim.
Dear future you (or me),
So I’ve just been to site and I’m a little terrified. My school is a ten minute walk from my house but it needs a lot of work. I have no furniture and I’m less than 3 weeks from swearing in. Also, I’m afraid because I’ll be Chiri, I’ll be isolated from the people I’ve known. I’m nervous to leave my host family and be on my own. I’m scared to learn Kafinono, but most importantly, I’m scared of nor making it. I have all these fears and while I know I’m not the only person feeling this way, it is the first time I am on my own. Peace Corps has not been what I expected and in some ways, it has really kicked my ass. I’m tired all the time, I’m stressed, overwhelmed, scared and sometimes I want to break down and cry. Overall, let me say this:
I hope I am a little stronger. I hope I am a little more patient. I hope I am a little kinder. I hope I am a little wiser. Most importantly, I hope to be a little braver. I hope I am honest and leave my comfort zone. I hope I find several Ethiopians to love and care for. I hope I still have the fire that burns deep inside of me; an unstoppable force – unwilling to give up. And if I am not any of this, I better figure out why quickly and change it.
The 22 year old me –
nervous, excited and scared as shit
I dedicate my service to… my loved ones who have supported me along the way and to myself because anything is possible.
We just finished MSC and I have so many thoughts running through my mind. The first few sessions were good but on the fourth day talking about the issues faced in Ethiopia with students, the community and especially the teachers – I became so demoralized. All I kept thinking about was “one more year of trying and having plans fall through. One more year of bullshit. One more year of doing/trying my best and having nothing. One more year of missed memories with those back in the states to be here where I get “money” or “you” or “where are you?”.” I have found some good prospects for future job opportunities within the CDC or USAID. I want to start when everything seems so bleak. But know what, Drea? If I leave now, I would miss out on so many holidays, so many laughter, so much joy and one more year to make an impact. Sadness WILL pass. The best thing we do in life is love. Although I may not be happy now, it does not mean that I will be unhappy forever. In one year, I’ll be back home trying to find the next path, the next journey, and the next obstacle. There hardest things change us the most. Drea, when you read this, it means YOU MADE IT. I made it 27 months in Ethiopia. What else can I do?
The 24 year old me –
Wild, passionate and brand new me
Having made it two years, I realize that I am more resilient, patient and more powerful than I thought. What other job could I have that would break down all my barriers, lay out my insecurities out into the open, and bring this new person into the light? It’s like I was forced to come out of my cocoon and turn into a beautiful butterfly.